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The CEO's Speech,3rd Forestry Week Celebration Media Launch & Tree Planting Day
Posted: 27 May 2014

SPEECH BY THE CHIEF EXECUTIVE OF THE FORESTRY COMMISSION, MR. SAMUEL AFARI DARTEY, IN COMMEMORATION OF THE 3RD FORESTRY WEEK CELEBRATION MEDIA LAUNCH & TREE PLANTING DAY – 27th MAY, 2014

Hon. Minister of Lands and Natural Resources Rep
Board of Commissioners of the Forestry Commission
Executive Management Team of the Forestry Commission
Management & Staff of the Forestry Commission
Our Friends from the Media
Ladies & Gentlemen


We have gathered here this year to commemorate the 2014 Forestry Week Celebration to mark the International Day of Forests to celebrate and raise awareness about the importance of all types of forests and trees. This time, it is linked with the celebration of Greening Ghana Day, an initiative of the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources to increase our forest cover. It is a weeklong celebration, under the theme “Celebrating Our Forests for Sustainable Development”.

The United Nations has instituted the International Day of Forests to be celebrated on March 21 annually, not only to venerate the value, significance and contributions of forests to balance the life cycle on the earth. It is a day, which the world body has set aside to remind humankind of its indebtedness to the forests. The theme for this year’s commemoration is: ‘Celebrating our Forests for Sustainable Development’.

Ghana is faced with the stark reality of increased exploitation of the forest resource base for national development. This is coupled with the illegal and brutal assault on the ever-dwindling resource. These situations throw into sharp focus, the consequences we are bound to face, as a nation, if we do not change our attitude and how we appreciate the importance of forests.

Our relationship with the forests should be guided by the caution from the admonition from the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr. Ban Kim-moon that forests are the lungs of our planet. Desecrating their sanctity, therefore, is equal to destroying our own survival.

Let us remember that our forests contribute immensely to the Gross Domestic Product and the socio-economic development of Ghana: eco-tourism, timber exports, home to diverse terrestrial bio-diversity as well as non-monetary benefits, such as water, energy, shelter and medicine.

Forests are therefore crucial for addressing a multitude of sustainable development imperatives, ranging from poverty eradication to food security, from mitigation and adapting to climate change to reducing disaster risk.

Notwithstanding these benefits, I shudder at the thought that our forest cover continues to reduce. More worrisome, our illegal forest operators continue to brutally attack our gallant Forest Guards and Wildlife Rangers, who protect the forest and wildlife resources of the nation. Our forest cover, which stood at 8.6million hectares, by the turn of 19th century, now stands at 1.8 million hectares. We have lost sixty-nine Forest Guards and Wildlife Rangers from 2011 to date. On February 21, this year, chainsaw operator shot dead in cold blood, one of our Forest Guards in the Sefwi Wiawso District in the Western Region whiles performing his lawful duty.

Although we dread those losses – both human and forests – I wish to assure the perpetrators of those heinous crimes of our resolve in our commitment to continue to sacrifice to protect our forest heritage. We are increasing the numerical strength of our Rapid Response Team and enhance their logistics to enable them to effectively combat of those criminals. We have also trained a cadre of our staff to assist the Office of Public Prosecutor to more effectively and expeditiously dispose of forest and wildlife offences.

We can only celebrate the forests for sustainable development, when we secure their sustainability, even as we utilize them for national development. We are seriously embarking on forest plantation development to meet the gap in the demand for forest product. We are also therefore moving from forests consumptive status to that of a non-consumptive strategic national asset, with emphasis on eco-tourism development.

Tree planting is one sure way of getting our depleted forests back.  The Forestry Commission, in collaboration with corporate bodies and donor agencies, will secure funding for the purchase of fast growing tree seedlings to replenish the lost forests.

I will like to take this opportunity to congratulate the Mayor of the Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly (KMA) and the Forest Research Institute of Ghana (FORIG) for birthing the Kumasi Urban Forestry Project dubbed “Me and My Tree Competition”, aimed at planting over 1million trees in Kumasi. This is an example worthy of emulation and I pray other assemblies and bodies will follow suit. I entreat the Major to approach the Forestry Commission for the necessary technical assistance and professional expertise,

The Forestry Commission is leading the tree planting campaign and since “charity begins at home”, the management and staff of the Commission will embark on a tree planting exercise in the Achimota Forest today, to drum home the need to plant trees to save our environment and our present and unborn generations.  The trees will maintained by national service persons to be posted to the Commission’s offices

Apart from the exercise in the Achimota Forest, another programme, “Greening Ghana Day” will be observed at Begoro in the Eastern Region on Thursday, May 29, 2014. As part of the activities to mark this day, there will be another tree planting exercise in some selected areas about 5 hectares will be planted in collaboration with Energy Commission. In addition to this, a colloquium on forest and wildlife resources management will also be held at the auditorium of the Forestry Commission, to sensitize the public on the need to save our ailing and dying forests.

This is a strategy alignment tool, which is in rhythm with the ethos of the new Forest and Wildlife Policy of 2012, which, among other things emphasizes non-consumptive utilization of the forest resource base. We are therefore developing eco-tourism attraction centres, such as the Kakum National Park, Shai-Hill, Achimota Forest and Mole National Park.

My media friends, you are the gate keepers of the nation, so you have a role to play here. I will encourage the media to give preference to news items on forest conservation and preservation for the benefit of future generations. Today, thanks to technology and the proliferation of media houses, it is not difficult getting information from one corner of the country to the other. The media should always fish out for information concerning our forests and give it the publicity that it deserves.
Ladies and gentlemen, together, we can plant, conserve and celebrate our forests for sustainable development.
We shall not relent in our quest to leave future generations and their communities with richer, better and more valuable forest and wildlife endowment than we inherited.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I declare the official launch of the 3rd Forestry Week  & Greening Ghana Day 2014 to mark the International Day of Forests scheduled to take place in Begoro in  the  Eastern Region on Thursday May29, 2014 duly launched.

Thank you all for your time and attention.

 

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